Saturday, March 31, 2012

K-Drama Review: Rooftop Prince, Episodes 3-4












Read episode reviews for:

Rooftop Prince--Episodes 1-2
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 5-6
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 7-8
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 9-10
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 11-12
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 13-14
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 15-16
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 17-18
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 19-20, Finale

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 3-4

It's episode 3, and I'm still following this time-travelling fusion drama, which says something for its charm. Diving right into this week's wackiness...

Chairman Grandma has just found Crown Prince Yi Gak, a time-travelling guy from a few centuries ago who has a dead double, Taeyong, in the present time. Chairman Grandma wants Yi Gak to admit that he's her lost grandson, but Yi Gak refuses to comply. Our villain Taemu, however, is thrilled that Yi Gak doesn't seem to be the real Taeyong because he sorta-kinda-maybe killed the real Taeyong.

Meanwhile, our heroine Park Ha is following her dream of opening her own fresh produce store. But she's still babysitting four time-travelling men from the Joseon Era, so that naturally makes her business plans more complicated. I love how our main girl doesn't pull any punches. Park Ha is like their den mother-slash-noona-slash-boss. She can't leave them alone for five minutes, or they get into the worst sorts of trouble, but they all seem to enjoy each other's company.

Yi Gak finally connects with Sena, the double of his dead princess, but she doesn't recognize him, of course. It's hard that you can't just tell Yi Gak that his own princess wasn't really worth missing, and Sena in the present isn't worth pursuing, either--they're both toxic girls. But Yi Gak only knows his own half of the story.

Yi Gak goes after Sena again, and there's a scary mirrored scene where Taemu punches Yi Gak over a railing and into some water for a potential drowning death. That's not really a good type of resonance, considering that Yi Gak's wife drowned, and his modern-day double Taeyong also drowned (also after being punched over the side of a railing by Taemu). There's another coincidental switchy-switchy plot point going on where Park Ha finds a phone that was Taeyong's two years ago and which, if recharged, will probably contain photos of him and Taemu on the day of his death. Coincidences are piling up and not in a good way.

Annnd...somehow after his accident Yi Gak has mentally switched places with Taeyong? So now we're going to get a double-flip where Taeyong doesn't remember his Joseon Era guys and Yi Gak is transported back to the Joseon period, where Taeyong has been all this time? I think? Ah, it's so complicated.



Things I Loved:

1. Taemu. He's not the most deep or enthralling villain, but Cousin Taemu is at least kind of gray. It doesn't seem like he was that evil before Taeyong's death--he acted like a good hyung (big bro) to Taeyong, talking nicely with him and trying to help him meet Part Ha. I think he's somewhat sorry for his actions, even if he loves his newfound power.

See, Doesn't He Look Remorseful?

2. Park Ha/Yi Gak. Right now, they strictly have friendly rapport with some antagonism thrown in, but they still have the best chemistry of anyone in the show. I love how she doesn't cut Yi Gak any slack; he may have weird manners, but she is going to demand that he live up to her standards of behavior. He fusses back at her, because he's used to being catered to, and I really love when our two leads are in a tiff. There's a great standoff moment when she won't cook him breakfast, and he refuses to ask for any. It's so cute.

No One You Want To Mess With.


3. The comedy. In relation to the historical fellows, there are too many funny parts to pick a favorite. There's the elevator scene, the calligraphy scene, the helium balloon scene, the car-washing scene... And there's a mind-blowing sequence where the four guys are in animal suits, dancing to "Lovey Dovey" by T-ara to help Park Ha sell strawberries.

Looks Even Weirder Than it Sounds.


Complaints:

1. The hair. I don't care if you're an ancient Korean emperor; if you're a guy and you require ponytail elastics and barrettes to keep your hair in place, you may need to rethink your current style.

Exhibit A.

2. The dull half of the plot. The time travel is interesting, Park Ha and Yi Gak are interesting, and parts of the Josoen Era are interesting, but all the modern day stuff about who will inherit Chairman Grandma's company is barely keeping my attention.

This Muddle of Primary Colors is Much More Interesting.


Themes:

Crossed Wires/ Missed Connections: Sena is trying to find Yi Gak for Chairman Grandma, and her boyfriend Taemu is trying to keep Chairman Grandma from finding him. Yi Gak is trying to find Sena because she looks like his lost princess, and she's looking for him for different reasons, but she walks right past him and they don't notice each other. Ships passing in the night, yo.

Mirrored Scenes: Two different people embrace the Hwayoung-Sena character and say "I don't care who's watching". Yi Gak hugs his princess in a dream and says he doesn't care if the court thinks it's appropriate, and Taemu hugs his secret girlfriend Sena in the present because he's so secure in his position as future head of the company that he doesn't think it'll be a problem if someone finds out about him dating a lowly secretary.

Cultural Observances:

New words: "Halmoni" is grandmother. "Banmal" is informal speech, which is mentioned when Park Ha warns Yi Gak to stop talking down to her. "Dongseng" is "younger sibling" which can mean your literal blood-related younger brother or sister, or simply a young friend who you're close to. "Hokshi" seems to mean "by any chance..." "Bappayo" is "busy" and Park Ha says she's too busy to take the guys to see their palace again. "Kureonde" is "however".

Episode Evaluations:

I'm completely thrown by this new plot development where Yi Gak and Taeyong have possibly switched places again. I have no idea where the show is going to go with this. But Rooftop Prince is so funny, and our heroine's interactions with the historical guys are so priceless, I'll keep tuning in until the show gives me a reason not to.

7 comments:

  1. I love the animal suites! It always works on some level. Always.

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    1. It's always a winning wardrobe choice! The guy dressed as a giant panda even faints in his costume, so there's even more animal-outfitted drama. I love it.

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  2. The elevaror scene may be the funniest thing I ever saw in any K-drama. I hope to see more antics from the eunoch, there is a wealth of hilarity there to be explored.

    I agree with you on Tae-mu, he may not be the sweetest guy ever but he is not pure evil either. One thing that surprised me is how serious he seems to be about his love affair. I half expected him to keep Se-na as a mistress of sorts but he genuinely seems to want to marry her. It elevates him from being just snake of a character.

    The Joseon guys learning hangul made me smile as it reminded me of myself when I was learning Korean. The prince visiting the palace was rather sad.

    Again Park-ha gets to speak English and I cringe. I hope they discard the whole America angle soon so that we can forget it ever happened.

    One thing is for sure, this series keeps surprising me.

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    1. When they went into that elevator, I /knew/ what was going to happen, but I still busted a gut laughing. Such good comic beats in this show.

      I was shocked at Taemu's genuine love for Sena, too. It's not a normal characteristic for a villain.

      I loved Park-Ha's little hangeul learning chart on the wall!

      The sad thing about Park Ha's English is that it's not the worst I've heard in a K-drama, not by a long shot. At least I can understand her--in some shows, I don't know they're speaking my native language until the subtitles inform me!

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    2. And the thing is, the elevator bit actually makes sense. I can imagine people from that era making that mistake very easily.

      When it comes to bad English in K-drama the worst offender I ever came across is Lord of Study in which a supposedly amazing English teacher manages to botch pronounciation, diction and even grammar! There is a lot of fuss about how great a teacher he is supposed to be.

      Another thing I've noticed is how awful Western actors tend to be in K-drama. Granted they mostly only make cameos but it's as if they picked up random Western people.

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    3. Lord of Study's on my To-Watch-Someday list. Thanks for the heads-up about the horrible English. :-) My pick for Best English ever goes to Phillip Lee's character in Secret Garden--some mean woman is speaking awful Engrish to impress him, then he comes out with crystal clear American speech, since he IS American. She switches back to Korean immediately.

      Yes, the Americans/Australians/Russians in K-dramas tend to be very awkward. So sad...

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  3. Good for you to finish it already! Me, im still watching it and so far loved it!

    Pls like and follow my blog @ http://random-stuff-online.blogspot.com

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